For generations residents of Point Shirley have had to be aware of and concerned about the potential for flooding, especially during major storms such as the Blizzard of 1978 and the Hurricane of 1938, two events, which brought incredible damage to sections of the Point.
After the Hurricane of ‘38, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers filled in the Shirley Gut and joined deer island Point Shirley. The resulting swath of land has been known locally as the Green property, after the properties first owner and tenant Oliver Green.
Since the Green family first sold the property, there have been at least two attempts by developers to purchase and develop the land.
However, according to one neighbor of the property, Michael Herbert, those attempts failed when the developers decided the cost of construction and risk of flooding were too great and the plans never got off the drawing board.
However, there is new concern in the neighborhood that a new attempt to build on the Green property may be on the horizon.
“I noticed a few months back that the property was for sale and now I see a sign that it has sold and people out here are just worried that someone new is going to come in here and try to build again,” said Herbert. “That land is Chapter 91 flood plain and (my) concern is that anything that gets built there is going to be detrimental to the neighborhood.”
Herbert, who said he and a small group of neighbors who cal themselves the Pullin Poynt Society are concerned about what new construction could mean for their already endangered homes.
“That property already floods during storms and if you walk out there you can see that it’s a line drive for Nor’easters that come through here,” added Herbert. “My home has already been damaged, at least five times from flooding in the past. Where is the water going to go if you put blacktop on that property or build homes? Its not going to go uphill, it’s going to come into our homes and neighborhood and make things worse.”
Herbert noted that he has visited the town’s Building Inspector, James Soper, and to date no new development plans have been filed by the new owners. But he and others in Point Shirley wonder if it is only a matter of time before someone tries to build on what they feel is unbuildable land, especially since someone has recently spent money to purchase the land.
“We know that anything that is proposed for that site is going to have to go through the Planning Board and the town in order to get built,” said Herbert. “But I’ve also heard that the Federal Emergency management Agency is helping people build their homes on piers, 16-inches above flood level. We could use that down here now.”
For now the concern does not appear to be immediate. Attempts to identify the new owners and ask them about their plans for the property were unsuccessful. However, Herbert and others on Point Shirley are hoping that town officials are paying attention and looking at any potential development on the point with a critical eye.